ICC Immersion: three prizewinners reflect on their participation in the programme in South Korea
ICC Immersion South Korea prizewinners Sun Toucoula (Beyond Stories), Justine Llorca (InCahoots Production) and Méliné Kéloglanian (Philharmonie des enfants) talk about their participation and its impact on the innovative projects they seek to develop internationally. Implemented by the Institut français and Business France, ICC immersion is a new initiative under the 2030 plan to support the export of French cultural and creative industries.
Updated on 26/06/2023
Could you tell us a little about your background, your organisations and their activities?
Sun Toucoula: Based in La Réunion, I created Beyond Stories in 2021 after several years spent in Quebec. We specialise in the transmedia adaptation of literary works, notably through the use of webtoons, and we deal mainly with transmedia writing, as well as the pre-production of adaptations.
Justine Llorca: I've been running InCahoots Production with my husband since 2022, although we started work on the project in 2019. We support cultural institutions so that they can open their doors to all audiences, including those with disabilities. We create virtual tours, offering informative content adapted to different types of disability.
Méliné Kéloglanian: I'm deputy director of the Philharmonie des enfants, a subsidiary of the Philharmonie de Paris, responsible for a new, permanent activity space for children aged 4 to 10. Children can discover music and the world of sound in a playful, poetic and accessible way. We have some thirty interactive installations, allowing them to enjoy a genuine sensory experience and play together.
Why did you decide to take part in the ICC Immersion programme in South Korea?
Sun Toucoula: I was already in discussions with Business France about going to Korea. This trip was vital for us because, in France, the webtoon market is just opening up and doesn't have many players, whereas South Korea is where it all began.
Justine Llorca: Like Sun, we were already working with Business France: it made sense in our approach to cultural democratisation and accessibility for all. We realised that cultural exclusion was not only linked to disability, but also had a social and geographical dimension. Starting in South Korea was a logical step, given that the appetite for culture and its consumption through digital means is far more advanced than in France.
Méliné Kéloglanian: The Philharmonie des enfants is intended to be duplicated around the world, and we wanted other children to benefit from it. We had identified Korea as a promising market because of the importance it gives to children's well-being and education. First and foremost, we want to make musical awakening an issue, and we felt that there were some interesting links.
What challenges do you face internationally, and why is it important to have support?
Sun Toucoula: It's hard to build networks, go to cultural events and keep abreast of what's going on in Réunion because we're so far from France. So it was essential to go to Korea to better understand how they have structured themselves and how the market is evolving. Being with other French companies also allowed us to exchange ideas and build synergies for the future.
Justine Llorca: We're a young company, and it was vital for us to be supported by the right people, so that we could talk to the right people. We really got to know the local players working in the field of disability, which we wouldn't have been able to do remotely. Networking, structuring and contacts were really the key.
Méliné Kéloglanian: The idea was to have someone who would allow us to decode the workings of the players in the field we want to work in. It was essential to understand what was at stake in Korea and to be guided by the way in which the stakeholders operate. When you identify a market, it's not easy to go it alone: there's a cultural gap, you need to understand the market and have a local contact.
The programme began at home with an immersion in the Korean cultural and creative industries ecosystem. What did you gain from this support?
Sun Toucoula: Having access to workshops in all sectors allowed us to identify initial avenues for development. We were able to adjust the model we were going to propose and offer something more adapted to the Korean market than we had originally intended when we got there.
Justine Llorca: The remote sessions and access to webinars were very helpful for understanding market trends. There's an entire approach to learn, ways of reading and understanding, before you work with the Korean market. The distance learning phase allowed us to prepare well and to identify the key to success, by avoiding the main pitfalls.
Méliné Kéloglanian: Our selection gave us confidence that our project had a place in the Korean market. It gave us the keys to the business plan, as well as making us think about economic operating modes.
You then took part in an intensive seven-day programme in South Korea. What do you remember about this week of collective immersion?
Sun Toucoula: The programme was very intense and extremely relevant. The three days at the trade show were exceptional, with qualitative meetings that really challenged us. We learned a lot and were able to fine-tune our service offering, as well as boosting our self-confidence. I'd also like to highlight the human side of the event, the closing gala at the end of the show, where we enjoyed the culmination of several months' work.
Justine Llorca: In human terms, it was a very rich experience. There was a strong sense of cohesion and mutual support between the 15 companies, especially as the Korean teams bent over backwards for us. From a business point of view, we were very surprised by the quality of the meetings and it was a huge time-saver when canvassing, as well as networking with our contacts.
Méliné Kéloglanian: There was an experimental period during this intensive week, where we were able to present ourselves and see how the project was received by the Korean public. Meeting these prospects was like an accelerator, saving us time. I share this feeling about the human aspect of this experience, where we experienced the strength of not feeling alone. It was a very moving experience, and we really felt a loss when we got home.
After this immersion, what are your plans for development in this country, and do you have any concrete examples to share?
Sun Toucoula: The programme has had a strong impact on a personal level, and also in Réunion. It has made local institutions more aware of this market and introduced them to a cultural sector that is still in development. It has helped institutions see the value and scope of this market. It has also opened the door to talks with the region to release the funds needed for its growth. As far as Korea is concerned, we are still at the discussion stage, but things are progressing well: we should be welcoming a Korean film shoot to Réunion before the end of the year.
Justine Llorca: It has been a success on two levels, in France and in Korea. We've been able to make ourselves better known to the stakeholders, and it's a real mark of quality to have been selected for the programme. In Korea, we met with our agent, who is responsible for finding cultural and educational venues for distribution, as well as for establishing links with Korean monuments. Other prospects are also planned in residences, where our productions can be shown in rehabilitation centres. It's a real coup for us.
Méliné Kéloglanian: We're still in contact with some of the people identified by the Franco-Korean Chamber of Commerce. It's still at the discussion stage, but several stakeholders have already come to France to visit our facilities. This is an important point, as it's essential that people are able to experience the site for themselves. Other projects are in development with the aim of duplicating this space in the future.
About ICC Immersion
ICC Immersion aims to give participating companies in-depth understanding of the ecosystems of their target countries, providing assistance with defining their strategy in light of the challenges and constraints of local markets and allowing them to benefit from immersion in the target countries in order to promote business opportunities.
It was launched in September 2022 in four countries: South Korea, Canada, the UK and Israel.
The call for applications for the ICC Immersion Taiwan programme is open until July 17. To apply, click here.
Further countries will be announced shortly.
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